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eCommerce web development agile and waterfall

What if I told you the earth is a living giant ball of an eCommerce website and we are its components? 

The road and rail networks are the navigational routes. Nature is a visually-appealing design. You, I, and a lot many like-us throngs on the Florida walkways to buy our favorite hamburgers, while some desert the stores followed by a bad experience.

But what fascinates me the most is that we practice web development procedures in our real lives when we install the decorative fountain pots at homes or sprint plan some cooked food before opening our restaurant. 

These procedures get us thinking about project management. You might ask why on earth would I consider fountain flower pots or early preparation of food as project management?

Well, fountain pots work on the same principle of waterfall project management, and pre-cooking is like agile methodology— both serving their purposes— both extremely brilliant with their processes.

That said, let’s find out how these project managements decide the success of your eCommerce development

Good project management is a cornerstone to a successful eCommerce development.

When we talk of eCommerce development— we immediately think about what methodology— agile or waterfall— could guide us in making swift decisions and quick deployments. 

Both invite a lot of heated debates among companies because eCommerce development projects start with determining and implementing one of the two.

  • The traditional waterfall web development model has been brilliant in serving the industries for years. You can call them the first of all the models.
  • The agile web development model is quite newer compared to the traditional waterfall management method. Surfaced after the 2000s, it’s a rapid website development method.

If you’re looking to adopt one of the models, we’ll say— don’t invent the electricity, switch on the bulb directly. We mean to say— skim through the blog post, don’t go through the entire book. 

We’re covering all the necessary details so that you can implement the succinct model for your eCommerce development. So, let’s quickly hop on their briefs:


What is the Waterfall Approach to eCommerce web development

When you go about developing your eCommerce website linearly or in a sequence— you have adopted the waterfall approach.

You will work on one phase of development at any point in time, and move ahead only when you have completed it.

Now you would ask— is it possible for you to revise any process if you have stepped forward to the next phase? Let’s say among seven stages of development— you’re on the third one— so could you come back at the first phase to fix the issues?

Unfortunately, the waterfall web development model works like a waterfall— you can’t go upstream to work on the previous part.

The only way is to hit the water floor at the bottom— slide your boat to the riverside— climb back to the waterfall— and fix the goddamn thing you want to. 

Similarly, you can revise or fix the problems only when you have ridden through the eCommerce development life cycle.

The essence of the waterfall web development approach is to complete the full project and then have a bird-eye view to make any adjustments.

Why Choose Waterfall?

You’d be surprised to know that decision making may be an unconscious activity and there’s a high chance that you’d pick the waterfall model despite not choosing it consciously.

Most human brains like to stick to a task, complete it, and then move to the second one. So, you can say the waterfall model is partly embodied in our subconscious mind. 

Since it reeks of naturalism— the waterfall web development approach automatically makes things easier for eCommerce development.

Here’s the sequence of web development events. Step-by-step:

  • Analysis: Gathering and documenting data for moving forward. All your next phase decisions will be based on the data you’ve collected on this stage. You will consider client-interviews and meetings for the development and customization of the project.
  • System design: Your developing team will find all the suitable forms to cover the needs of the clients. You’ll design system logic along with developing language, services, data layers, resource allocation, etc.
  • Code and implementation: With regards to your analysis and system design— you’ll implement your code on this stage. You will apply all system logic and service integration to give your eCommerce its face.  
  • Testing and fixing issues: You navigate through the entire face of the project system, test the codes, and user acceptance. This stage also includes detecting and squashing the bugs to make the project more robust and agile. 
  • Delivery and maintenance: Once you have tested, you can launch the project and deliver the finished product to the customer. Make operational changes to keep the system up-to-date and functional.

The waterfall model is not all roses. It has some thorns and stale petals— advantages and disadvantages.


  • Accurate Project timeline

It’s easy to calculate the project timeline. Since you have spent two stages understanding the client’s and project requirements— you can efficiently allocate the deadlines to each step and come with a concrete project timeline.

  • Works great for small projects

The Waterfall web development approach suits the best for small projects, especially the ones under milestones and data-focused patterns. The life cycle of small projects complete in a short time that can be revised quickly for early launch and deployment.

  • Adaptable to shifting teams

As your project development heavily relies on the documentation and data you have collected— the teams may come and go— it will be quite easy to pick the development from any stage by new team members. Team shifting will not falter the project speed, and the development process will stay as it is.

  •  Allows early design change

Waterfall models give you the luxury to change the design or system requirements. As you spend 33% of your phase time collecting information data in a couple of initial stages— you can easily make any alteration or modification to the plan as any coding hasn’t taken place.


  • A waterfall design is costly.

Imagine you had to get a helicopter to go upstream on the waterfall to fix the system issue. Well, you’d be spending too much doing that. Developers adopt waterfall models despite knowing that they can’t traceback, primarily when they have coded the project according to the documentation. Any change in the documentation in the later stage would demand project scrapping and starting it from scratch.

  • Incompetent with quick project deliveries

If you want your eCommerce to storm into the market quickly— waterfall project management might not go well with delivery times. Each succeeding team of the succeeding phase will have to wait for the preceding stage to complete. A designer can’t work without system requirements. A tester can’t pounce on the project until coding is done wholly. And even after these phases— no one can warrant if the design won’t break or fail miserably.

  • Testing is often overlooked.

With project deadlines lingering over your head, you might feel tempted to skip or overlook the testing process. Since it occurs late in the development cycle— rushing your project to meet the client’s expected dates may only seem like a feasible solution to you.

What Is the Agile Approach to eCommerce Web Development

The agile approach in a layman’s term is “perfecting the first block before moving to the second block.” Yeah, that’s right.

The general idea behind the waterfall process is “let’s finish off the project— we’ll rectify if needed later.”

The idea behind the agile web development process is “to add, test, and tweak little functionality— here and there— regularly in a short span within any phase.”

In even simpler words— the development and testing go hand in hand, thereby ruling out the overlooking of the testing phase.

The session-based changes allow teams to explore several permutations and combinations while the project development progresses.

Unlike the waterfall model— you can shift your focus on any phase without having to worry about one to complete.

The model also gives clients a real sneak peek into the project that helps developers gather likes and dislikes of the clients. It allows eCommerce developing companies to make necessary changes at that particular moment and allocate their resources for highly optimized websites.

Why choose an agile approach?

Not being as straightforward and subconsciously ingrained as the waterfall model— agile approach needs proper strategy but calculated, and sprint planning already gives a head start to any project.

Agile web development strategy allows better communication between the groups of teams and customers.

Here’s the sequence of web development events. Step-by-step:

  • Understanding the client’s requirement: Akin to the waterfall model, you’ll consider your client’s words and need to understand the eCommerce project you’ll work on. You can create project scope, but remember that the purpose of the agile model is to have flexible and changeable scopes. Don’t make them rigid!
  • Sprint Planning: You’ll be holding sprint planning meetings to allocate different bands of work to your team, and determining what role will suit which group. Basically, the phase is about assigning even work to the team in a particular sprint bracket and finalizing features an eCommerce store should have.
  • Designing: Once the work is assigned for a particular sprint— the developing team will be on their feet, giving the face of eCommerce. 
  • Testing: Within the same sprint span— the testing team will test the use cases and fix the bug issues.
  • Sprint review and preparing for the next set of work: After the end of each sprint— your team will meet-up again to discuss the completed part of the given phase. You’ll examine the product issues, give sprint reviews, and allot the next set of work for the succeeding sprint.
  • Deploy & Maintenance: Once you have conducted each sprint step-by-step— you will be in a position to deploy the project. Your clients will already have an insight into the project given that the method allows regular stand-ups and client reviews. Hit the final nail, maintaining eCommerce.

The agile model is not all roses. But it’s also not all thorns and stale petals— advantages and disadvantages.


  • Continuous Improvement

It gets challenging to stick to your plans considering ever-changing client’s requirements and moods. Agile methodology empowers your clients to keep their views amid project development, and you to improvise according to their current state of mind.

  • Client satisfaction

The model allows you to arrange open communication with your clients. With video conferences or calls— you can understand minor project requirements and raise tokens should there be any problems. Apart from strengthening relationships, the system gratifies your clients making them feel valued for their opinions. The early working prototype satisfies your customers.

  • Reduced Risks

The changing trends and fickleness of client’s requirements often cost developing companies more than they anticipate. Imagine being at the fourth stage of a cycle, and your client refuses to accept the design. How much would the deconstruction and starting from scratch cost? But the agile model reduces all the risks as you’re keeping them posted at each sprint.

  • Adaptive approach

Need to change a module? The session-based skimming allows your team to travel extra-mile to have the most optimized functionality. The self-organized and motivated teams in the agile web development model help easy adaptation and customization without flattening your wallet.

  • No strict structure

With no strict structure or project scope— the project remains flexible throughout the development phase. You can scale or descale the project too.


  • Not useful for small projects

Agile projects have overhead costs in terms of meetings, reviews and retrospectives, daily stand-ups, client interaction, and a lot more. You might not want to go for it for small projects— the projects that won’t ring much of your cash register.

  • Takes more time

With the waterfall model— the probability of changes is 0.5 by the end of the project, i.e., your client may either nod a yes or say a no! But with continuous client engagement and reviewing in the agile web development model— you might have to have regular changes every sprint. Plus iterative meetings and reviewings can consume a lot of time.

  • Needs an expert to take major decisions

The agile approach is not possible without the decisions of the expert in the company. It needs a managing force to arrange meetings, dividing sprints, reviewing work, and interacting with clients. The process may not move if the concerned person goes missing for a few days.

  • Directionless project

Since the project demands a project manager— a clueless one could result in a directionless project with her decisions. Moreover, agile project methodologies have been the root of silo mentality in any organization if the project manager is incompetent to formulate a good team.

Waterfall Versus Agile

The word ‘waterfall’ itself defines the waterfall model, where the model is linear and flows like a waterfall from up to down.

In the waterfall model, all models run in a sequence where one stage follows the next, continuing the cycle.

With Agile and Waterfall, their differences are apparent.

  • Agile refers to a continuous development and testing approach rather than a linear sequential life cycle model.
  • Compared to Agile, waterfall methods are much more rigid.
  • In Waterfall, there are a series of predefined steps, but in Agile, the project progresses as it moves along.
  • When using the Waterfall Method, team members faced constraints in design, a lack of customer feedback, and prolonged testing delays. However, as long as the team and client work cooperatively and communicate, Agile is not a problem.

Today, when technology has evolved so quickly and has transformed the world in its manner, the waterfall development process is considered “old school.”

Let’s understand better with an example.

The client meets with the web development team and states, “These are the precise features I’m looking for—develop them!”

Though the Waterfall approach is more strict, the team cannot change its process.

On the contrary, Agile project management is a more dynamic, collaborative style of project management.

“I have an idea—let’s collaborate as a team and build the best of my idea,” the customer says at the start of the project that demands adaptability.

In Agile, the team at each stage can test and iterate.

The team can also release a dummy or basic version to get their feedback on it. And later release the final version.

In a nutshell, Agile is more…agile!

When To Use Waterfall Instead Of Agile Web Development Approach

waterfall or agile methodology

While some may say that the Waterfall is “a dry cascade,” the reality is that in some instances, a waterfall may be the ideal solution, including:

  • Situations require extensive documentation because of stringent regulatory requirements.
  • You have a strict deadline that needs to be met, and the product owner cannot tweak or amend the final product during the process.

By and large, the waterfall model works when parameters cannot be readily altered.

Using Agile vs Waterfall Development For Your Projects. When to use which model?

Agile or waterfall project methodology? Well. The call is yours. Both are suited for specific types of projects, and you need to know them before you settle on anyone.

We’ll summarize the blog to make it easier for you to decide:

Waterfall Model

Agile Model

Go for the waterfall project when you are setting all the requirements and project scope beforehand and don’t expect changes. Confirm with your clients in advance if they have a fixed need.Workaround an agile model if the project seeks frequent changes. Explain to your clients the difference between the two and ask their opinions on what they would prefer.
Waterfall works amazingly on small projects. Make it your first choice as it will cost less. For a vast-moduled project— Agile will be a good fit.
The waterfall is manageable if you have a large team.Agile web development is operable in small to mid-sized groups.
If you hate regular meetings, team coordination, silo mentality, and timely-management— the waterfall is your go-to way to conduct the project.The agile process will demand strict communication between the team, thereby pushing you to develop a strong team-relationship.
Waterfall management can be very swift when your client doesn’t want any involvement in project development.Agile management is ideally-suited when your clients want to add their two-bits every sprint.


Rishi Thakker

Rishi Thakker

Rishi Thakker is the founder and CEO of Huptech Web, an eCommerce development and marketing firm that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers. His unique writing tips give startups and well-known brands a palpable action plan full of innovation unmatched.

5 Responses

  1. Hey, Rishi.

    I must appreciate your work on this blog.

    This is truly a well-detailed post.

    An eCommerce website that wishes to make more sales(of course this is the main aim of having an eCommerce site), these models and tips outlined must be followed.

  2. I wasn’t aware of the difference between the agile and waterfall method before reading this article. I have gained a lot of insight into these subjects through your article. I was planning to start an e-commerce website and when I came across your article it has brought me one step closure to developing my own e-commerce website. Keep educating readers through such posts. Thank you.

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